What Recovering Alcoholics Need to Know about Anxiety and Addiction

What Recovering Alcoholics Need to Know about Anxiety and Addiction

What Recovering Alcoholics Need to Know about Anxiety and Addiction

Did anxiety drive your alcoholism? There's a powerful connection between anxiety and addiction. Learn more about this link and ways to avoid relapse.

Keyword(s): anxiety and addiction

Did you know that people with an anxiety disorder are twice as likely to suffer from addiction?

It is essential to note the comorbidity between anxiety and addiction. An awareness can help dual diagnosis treatment and recovery. Then you can seek help and recognize onset warning signs to prevent relapse. 

Keep reading to learn more about the connection between alcoholism and anxiety. And how you can manage it. 

Types of Anxiety

Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the US. Around 40 million people are affected each year.

As with addiction, there are common symptoms. However, anxiety is an umbrella term for different anxiety disorders, which can overlap. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most common presentation. Common symptoms include constantly worrying, a sense of dread, insomnia, and restlessness. You might not be able to identify what you are worried about, but fears often worsen and evolve.

Other disorders include social anxiety disorder (SAD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD occurs after a traumatic event. You relive the experience through flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms. 

SAD is an excessive fear of socializing. It could be mixing with others, being in crowds, or speaking in public. 

Anxiety and Addiction

So how are addiction and anxiety connected? It is essential to understand the link like it is important to understand addiction. They feed off each other.

Usually, alcohol starts as a way to self-medicate for feelings of anxiety. Alcohol can also cause anxiety, but people might not recognize it as the cause. If someone experiences symptoms like insomnia or worrying, a drink may seem like a way to quell any panic.

It might appear to help initially, but over time their tolerance builds up, so they drink or use more. It becomes a cycle of alcohol or substance misuse without treating the causes of anxiety.

Alcohol Makes Anxiety Worse

Anxiety and alcohol do not work well together. It does not only prevent you from breaking the cycle and identifying the causes of your anxiety. It also can exacerbate symptoms.

Alcohol impacts your brain's serotonin levels and other neurotransmitters, which can worsen anxiety. Alcohol withdrawal also mirrors anxiety symptoms. And any behavior fuelled by alcohol can also make you feel more anxious once its effects wear off. 

If you are in recovery, certain situations may trigger anxiety because of the fear of relapse. 

Anxiety and Alcoholism Recovery

Many treatment programs recognize the importance of dual diagnosis treatment. Or they will be able to guide you to the right support services. 

You may be prescribed medication. There are also activities you can do, such as tai-chi and other calming practices. It is all about finding other positive coping techniques to replace alcohol. This will help prevent alcohol relapse.

Therapy will also help identify the root causes of your anxiety and addiction. When you experience stress, hold a grounding object, or practice a breathing technique.  

Manage Addiction and Anxiety

If you think you do have symptoms of anxiety, seek advice from a medical professional. Voicing your fears to loved ones or those in your recovery groups can also do wonders. 

If you do not address anxiety and addiction, you will not break the cycle. They depend on each other. It is time to heal from both. 

Good luck on your recovery journey. Consider joining one of our online meetings to help aid your recovery.